I bought this book because tomorrow I am delivering a lecture on fiction written for children about the Holocaust. Its author, AnneBooth, and I have corresponded quite a bit about this theme on Twitter and via email as we have both been writing about that era. I was fortunate enough to enjoy a sabbatical awarded by the University of Salford three years ago and spent quite some time researching the background to my own novel, The House on Schellberg Street that also comes out shortly. Last week I spoke about that and the novel I’m working on now, Clara’s Story, a sort of prequel-sequel.
It is problematic writing about the Holocaust for children. You have to a make the story palatable yet you must not understate nor sanitize.
Anne’s story is a little different because it takes place in the 21st century. The reader discovers some of the truth about the Holocaust at the same time as protagonist Jessie and her friends. Neither does this book suggest that it is all black and white. Anne shows the difficulties that ordinary German faced at that time. She also shows through what is happening in the everyday life of Jessie and her friends that we still need to apply any lessons learned from that time.
This book isn’t great just because of how well it handles this huge issue. It also includes some very fine writing. The author has absolutely captured young Jessie’s voice. The teens depicted in the novel are believable and lovable, even though they have their flaws.
This is a fabulous story about a girl and her white dog.